The foremost thing to say about a newborn is that "Mother's milk is best for a baby!" All the babies should be put to the breast within the first 2 hours of delivery. Breast milk is the best source of all the energy and nutrition a baby will require for the first six months of her/his life. Nothing should be given to the baby except the breast milk. Even in the hottest of weather, the baby does not need a drop of water, breast milk is sufficed. Please do not give anything else, for example, honey, gripe water, or even the tea, to the baby. This type of breastfeeding, in which baby is just taking breast milk, and nothing else, is called "exclusive breastfeeding". After 6 months of age, all the babies must be weaned. Breastfeeding must continue for at least another 6 months, or more, if possible. Before going into the topic of weaning, one must realize that breastfeeding puts more burden on the nursing mother than pregnancy. Therefore, the nursing mother's diet and nutrition must be taken care of very closely. A weight-gain during the lactation is normal, and with proper diet and nutrition, the mother will lose weight gradually. What should not be given to a baby till she/he is 1 year old The following 3 things must be avoided during the first year of life of the baby when weaning starts at 6 months of age:
Peanuts, peanut butter, or anything containing peanuts
Cow's, buffalo, goat, or any other milk source. Keep the baby on breast milk as the only source of milk along with other solid to semi-solid foods (discussed later).
Weaning On the first day of weaning and then afterward, start slow. It is a better choice to go with pre-formed, commercially available weaning foods for the baby, but it is not essential. One can easily make whatever food the baby will require, in the home. A better choice will be to make rice pudding with chicken meat and adding a bit of oil in it. Avoid salting the food, and of course no chilies and spices. The seasoning can be introduced after the baby's first birthday, slowly. At the start, just introduce a small amount of rice food once a day. Check the effects on the baby. Go on breastfeeding. Within 2-3 days, increase the amount gradually along with adding the times she/he will be fed semi-solid food. Whatever changes you make in the amount and times of servings, go slowly and check for at least 2 days for any effect. You can slowly introduce wheat-based foods, along with egg yellow, fruits like bananas, and yogurt etc. Please do not opt for any kind of milk as food for the baby till first birthday, your milk is still the best choice for her/him. Within about 2 months, you have already tried different foods and found them okay. When your baby will be 8-9 months, she/he can now take at least 3-4 semi-solid foods along with 2-3 times breast milk. Always feed the baby with full attention separately. Do not try to feed the baby along with other people of the family or during the family’s own eating time, at least not for the first year. She/he can join the dining table later in life.
Every baby is different, so just don't blindly think that some food or some amount, good for other babies should be okay for yours too. Always, try with small meals, check whether your baby likes it. Every child's taste is different. Don't be bothered, if your baby likes just one kind of food better than the other. Don't force your baby to eat which she/he refuses plainly. Variety is just very relative as for as these babies go. If she/he opts for one or two foods go on giving that food, don't insist that she/he is not going for variety or a change. These habits can be altered after the first birthday, when more taste can be added to her/his life. This period is important as far as good nutrition goes. And please do not discuss your baby's eating habits with others a lot. You are the mother, your baby will guide you what she/he likes and wants, and you are the decision-maker. Go by the guidance of your baby and listen to her/him. After the first birthday, your baby can now have other milk as well and can taste the whole egg. Careful about the peanuts, even at this stage, if you want to introduce, go slow.
Go on breastfeeding during the weaning period. A rule of thumb is to let your baby eat well during one meal, so that she/he should not require anything else, not even the breast milk, but this is not the rule. Always go with your baby. If she/he still wants to have some of your milk after eating semi-solid food, do not refuse. Most babies will not opt for the breast and feel satisfied. If your baby is doing it more often, it means only one thing that she/he is not full or dislike the food. Try to change the food and go for what she/he loves. Usually, babies will eat enough and breastfeeding will be minimized for 2-3 times a day, but do not quit breastfeeding even during the weaning period, not for the first year, at least.
Mothers have a lot of queries about weaning and breastfeeding. I have learned during my clinical practice that mothers love to discuss and gain knowledge as much as possible with their physicians. I am, therefore, opened to any questions, you may have. I will love to respond quickly.